Coronavirus Latest Updates: The coronavirus pandemic has claimed over 2.2 lakh lives and infected at least 3.19 million people across the globe. While many states in the United States are planning to ease restrictions, media reports suggest that Japan may extend its emergency. Covid-19 has not only had huge human costs but has also impacted the world economy drastically, with the International Labour Organization (ILO) predicting that nearly half of the global workforce is at risk of losing livelihoods.
Here’s some of the most important COVID-19 news from across the globe
European economy suffers a record drop amid coronavirus pandemic
The European economy shrank by a record 3.8% in the first quarter, the drop in the 19-country eurozone was the biggest since statistics began in 1995. This is also sharper than the plunge during the global financial crisis in the first quarter of 2009.
The drop comes as business activity from hotels and restaurants to construction and manufacturing was frozen by shutdowns aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus.
The drop compares to a 4.8% contraction in the U.S. during the first quarter as the shock from the outbreak hits economies around the world.
US records 2,502 coronavirus deaths in past 24 hours; 35 states release formal opening plans
The United States recorded 2,502 coronavirus deaths in the past 24 hours, according to the tally maintained by Johns Hopkins University. After two days of a relative easing in the toll on Sunday and Monday, the numbers have spiked again the past two days, taking the death toll to 60,853.
As many as 35 of the 50 American states have released formal opening plans, as US President Donald Trump on Wednesday exuded confidence that much better days are ahead for the country. “We are heartened that the worst of the pain and suffering is going to be behind us,” Trump said, during a White House roundtable with industry executives on “Opening Up America Again”.
In another development, President Donald Trump in an interview with Reuters said he believes China’s handling of the coronavirus is proof that Beijing “will do anything they can” to make him lose his re-election bid in November. He also talked tough on China and said he was looking at different options in terms of consequences for Beijing over the virus. “I can do a lot,” he said. He also termed the World Health Organization “literally a pipe organ for China.”
He also said that the federal government will not be extending its coronavirus social distancing guidelines once they expire Thursday, and his son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, predicted that by July the country will be “really rocking again.” To underscore his confidence, Trump said he plans to resume out-of-state travel after spending more than a month mostly cooped up in the White House, starting with a trip to Arizona next week.
G7 ministers discuss strategies to accelerate economies once they reopen
Finance ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) countries on Thursday discussed strategies to accelerate economic activity once they reopened after sweeping lockdowns aimed at containing the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Treasury said.
Mnuchin spoke with top finance officials of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Britain, the European Union and the Eurogroup by telephone early Thursday to continue coordinating “timely and effective actions” in response to the economic fallout of the pandemic, the spokesperson said in a statement.
No further details were immediately available.
US Consumer spending plunges record low at 7.5%
The Commerce Department said that the spending decline was the sharpest monthly drop on records that go back to 1959, exceeding the previous record, a decline of 2.1% in January 1987. Personal incomes also fell sharply last month, declining by 2% with wages and salaries, the largest part of incomes, falling by 3.1% as millions of Americans started getting lay-off notices.
Over 30 million US citizens claim jobless benefits due to the pandemic
The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits because of the coronavirus has soared past 30 million, worsening a crisis unmatched since the 1930s and turning up the pressure on political leaders to lift coronavirus restrictions that are harming the economy.
Government figures released Thursday showed that 3.8 million laid-off workers applied for jobless benefits last week, raising the total to about 30.3 million in the six weeks since the outbreak took hold and forced the shutdown of factories and other businesses from coast to coast.
Clean air due to COVID-19 lockdown leads to 11,000 fewer deaths in Europe
Europe’s air quality improvement in the last month due to the coronavirus lockdown has resulted in 11,000 fewer deaths, a study revealed.
According to a study published by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), drastic fall in traffic and industrial emissions have also led to 1.3 million fewer days of work absence, at least 6,000 fewer children having asthma attacks, 1,900 avoided hospital emergency room visits and 600 fewer preterm births.
The report found that the projected highest number of avoided pollution-related casualties in Germany stood at 2,083, followed by the UK at 1,752, Italy at 1,490, France at 1,230 and Spain at 1,083.
South Korea reports no new domestic cases
South Korea reported on Thursday no new domestic coronavirus cases for the first time since its Feb. 29 peak, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said. KCDC reported four new infections, all imported cases, taking the national tally to 10,765. The death toll rose by one to 247.
European lockdowns could avert 11,300 air pollution deaths – report
Improved air quality in Europe due to lockdowns to combat the coronavirus pandemic has delivered health benefits equivalent to avoiding 11,300 premature deaths, according to a study published on Thursday. Researchers extrapolated the likely impact on diseases caused or made worse by air pollution, which has fallen dramatically as hundreds of millions of people have stayed at home over the past month.”You could compare it to everyone in Europe stopping smoking for a month,” said Lauri Myllyvirta, lead analyst at the Helsinki-based Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, which conducted the study.
Japan PM to seek experts’ help to decide on lockdown extension
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Thursday that the government would consult experts to decide whether to extend the state of emergency beyond May 6.Abe, speaking in parliament, also said the situation surrounding the coronavirus epidemic continued to be “severe”. A report in Bloomberg quoted local media saying that the emergency will be extended into June. Regional governors are in favor of maintaining the state of emergency that runs through May 6, Kyodo News reported. The final decision will be taken tomorrow, the Nikkei newspaper said.
Meanwhile, Japan’s parliament is set to approve today a $241 billion supplementary budget to fund a record stimulus package featuring cash payouts and loans to cash-strapped firms to cushion the economic blow from the pandemic.
UK has third-highest casualties in world
In its revised tally that includes deaths outside hospitals, the United Kingdom has registered 26,097 casualties, way ahead of the 21,678 announced on Tuesday. The U.K. has the third-highest coronavirus death toll in the world, with Italy and the US ahead of it. The Telegraph has reported that Prime Minister Boris Johnson will use his first Downing Street press conference since his return to work to lay out the argument as to why the lockdown will remain in place.
Virus will affect 57 million jobs: McKinsey
The coronavirus pandemic will hurt 57 million U.S. workers, more than double the number of jobless claims so far, once furloughs and reduced hours and pay are included, according to McKinsey & Co. The more than 26 million people who have filed unemployment claims in the past five weeks provide only a partial picture of workforce dislocations, with tens of millions more facing additional risks, according to a report from the McKinsey Global Institute, the think tank arm of the consultancy.
Nearly half of global workforce at risk of losing livelihoods: ILO
Almost 1.6 billion workers in the informal economy, nearly half of the global workforce, face an immediate danger of losing their livelihoods due to the continued sharp decline in working hours because of the COVID-19 outbreak, the International Labour Organization has said. More than 430 million enterprises in hard-hit sectors such as retail and manufacturing risk “serious disruption”, the UN agency added. The findings appear in the ILO Monitor third edition: COVID-19 and the world of work, released Wednesday.
Hungary to gradually reopen
Hungary will restart its economy gradually while leaving “strict defensive measures” in place in the capital of Budapest, which has the most coronavirus cases, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said after a cabinet meeting. Stores in the countryside can reopen without restrictions but wearing masks will be mandatory on public transportation and in shops. Hungary had 2,727 registered coronavirus cases as of Wednesday, with 300 deaths.
Inside these paper planes are messages to raise awareness about #COVID19.
Refugees in Europe’s largest refugee camp are taking matters into their own hands during the coronavirus pandemic. pic.twitter.com/ENHgd7CkFQ
— AJ+ (@ajplus) April 29, 2020
Other global news
- Italy’s crime rate slumped 66.6% in March due to lockdown
- China reports no new deaths and four positive cases
- Yemen reports first two deaths from coronavirus
- Maldives reports first COVID-19 death
- Los Angeles to offer free virus testing to residents
- Nevada governor extends stay-at-home order to May 15, eases some restrictions
- California likely to announce closure of state’s beaches and parks
- Fatalities in the Netherlands rose 3% to 4,711, surpassing the official tally of 4,633 in mainland China
(With inputs from Reuters, AP, Bloomberg)